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Tell Multnomah County how to make their roads better for biking

Posted by on April 5th, 2018 at 3:52 pm

The County’s section of NW Cornell Road just above downtown Portland is a main vein in the bike network and it should have the shoulders and signage to reflect that.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Everyone’s buzzing about the opportunity to tell Multnomah County what to include in their 20-year Roads Capital Improvement Plan (RCIP). OK, maybe it’s just all the activists in my feeds and inbox. Either way, they know a good thing when they see it.

The County is a sleeper agency. Even though they manage only about 1/8th the road mileage of the City of Portland, the County’s roads happen to be some very important bike routes. And as an agency, they’re much more accessible than their larger cousins at the city, region, or state level. For those reasons alone, the RCIP is ripe for input and we should embrace the opportunity to influence it.

So: What does the RCIP include? It doesn’t include the County’s bridges over the Willamette River; but it does include some of the most popular streets for cycling on the west side. Ever ride up NW Cornell and Thompson to Skyline? That’s the County. Ever climb NW Newberry or McNamee? County. And the beloved Sauvie Island loop? Yep, that’s their jam too. They also own lots of the great backroads surrounding Corbett and Troutdale near the Sandy River.

Here’s a detailed map of the roads included in the RCIP.

County-owned roads that are part of the RCIP shown in Orange. Sauvie Island loop is in the upper middle. See them all here.

Why is this on the BikePortland Front Page? Because the County is putting together a project list and we are their eyes and ears as to how they can make these roads better for bicycling. “This is the first time in decades that the County is really digging in to understand its roads and make an in-depth plan,” states the County website. “Many more people live here now than 10 or 20 years ago, and more get around without a car.”

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East of Gresham, the RCIP includes some great rural roads – as well as urban arterials.

The type of projects that the County says could be included in the RCIP are things like, “widening shoulders for people walking and biking”, intersection safety projects, or new multi-use paths.

Personally, I’m going to request that the County designate sections of Skyline Blvd (between Thompson and Old Cornelius Pass) as a “Bicycle Safety Corridor”. As such, I want them to add: more signage calling out the designation, paved bicycle turnouts every few miles, and I’ll even mention my hope for a new policy of doubling traffic fines inside the corridor boundary.

Jessica Engelman, former Chair of Bike Loud PDX said she asked the County to include: separated biking and walking paths from the Springwater/Blue Line MAX Station to Oxbow, Dodge, and Milo McIver Parks; and a separated bike/walk loop around Sauvie Island.

Jessica also had these positive things to say about the online open house itself: “I’m really impressed with whomever at Multnomah County composed this survey, since they already ask a lot of questions about active transportation and safety priorities; it implies the county is poised to do some great things with the right public support. This is a vision-setting survey, so be creative and bold!”

What are your ideas? Please let them know or you lose your right to complain later.

If you’d like to learn more and talk to County officials about the RCIP, swing into the offline open house coming up at Skyline Elementary School on Tuesday (4/10) 6:30 pm.

The County will finalize the project list by end of this year. Check the RCIP fact sheet for more info. And don’t forget to take the online open house before April 15th.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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David Hampsten
Guest

Several streets in Gresham and East County are also Mutnomah County. Are they also in the RCIP?

Joseph E
Guest
Joseph E

Jonathan,
If you have time, it would be great to add another image showing the county roads east of Portland. While the county roads in NW Portland and Sauvie island are important for recreation, many of the county roads north of Gresham are major suburban transportaiton routes, as well as routes to recreation in the Gorge and rural Multnomah county.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

First of all, fill the potholes.

Glenn F
Guest
Glenn F

1) get a few cycliq cameras
2) just take the lane
3) if others get upset, kill them with kindness

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Jonathan – thanks for daylighting this opportunity to a larger audience

cam
Subscriber

Where is the Springwater/Blue Line MAX station? Maybe Green Line was meant? Shows that somebody doesn’t use them enpough to know.

rick
Guest
rick

A great opportunity for the county to focus on north / south roads !

BikeSlobPDX
Subscriber
BikeSlobPDX

Aren’t Dodge and McIver in Clackamas County?

Gary
Guest
Gary

Jonathan: Your Skyline proposal seems quite timid. Why not a multi-use path or something? Is that a ROW issue?

Something on Sauvie would be a game changer for me. I really want to enjoy the island by bike with my family, but there’s just no way I’d do it as things currently stand.

Takethelane
Guest
Takethelane

Cornell Road and Skyline Blvd in “Forest Heights” should have been upgraded with bike paths at least 20 – 30 years ago when they started building all those houses up there. I grew up biking these roads since the 1970s, rarely seeing a car and even getting caught behind the occasional tractor. The roads have hardly been improved since then, even though the traffic has increased at least a hundred fold and the speeds of the traffic has gone from 20 – 30 mph to 40-60 mph. I avoid Cornell like the plague and only occasionally bike Skyline now. I consider myself an assertive bicyclist, but I don’t want to surprise some car or cement truck by being on the road as they come around a blind curve at 50mph (and perhaps meet another vehicle coming the other way at the same speed.).

rick
Guest
rick

I saw the 1990 Mulnomah County Bicycle Master Plan shows SW Scholls Ferry Road as a planned bikeway. That is a long time to wait. Just make NW Newberry Road as a walk / bike / skateboard-only road by the landslide and spend that $1,900,000 on outer Halsey and SW Scholls Ferry Road.

rick
Guest
rick

Why should Newberry Road be repaired? There are less than 30 homes on that road and no known businesses.

Takethelane
Guest
Takethelane

Cover the ditches on Cornell and Skyline to make bike paths on the shoulder/widen the road.

Mark Nelsen
Guest

I live along Haines Road in Corbett area. Other than fixing potholes, I don’t see what the county would want to change in the area east of the Sandy River. I regularly ride both weekdays and weekends on various roads; pretty light traffic just about anytime. Obviously the HCRH is a different issue; hordes of tourists and bicycles on warm season weekends. I never ride that on weekends except before 10am.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Wider shoulders at least on uphill sections and lower speed limits on roads like Cornell, Skyline, Springville, etc. would be fantastic. As another mentioned, it feels seems that absolutely nothing has been done to improve these roads since they were farm roads, and now there are huge numbers of residents and commuters using them. At a minimum, lower speed limits should reflect the amount of traffic and the high number of pedestrians and cyclists using narrow roads.

Not sure if it’s possible, but bans or limits on heavy industrial trucks on these roads would also vastly improve safety too. With all the construction, there are so many heavy industrial trucks using these narrow roads it’s very dangerous for drivers much less cyclists.

HJ
Guest
HJ

Bike lanes for climbing on Cornell, perfect world for both directions. Bike lanes and sidewalks for Miller Rd. It’s flat out offensive that Miller doesn’t have even so much as a sidewalk with as incredibly wide as that road is and as much as we have begged for said for decades.
I’m at the point where I’m beyond disgusted with MultCo and their consistent unwillingness to address issues with these roads. It takes us months to get potholes causing people to cross centerline on an arterial like Cornell fixed. Even after they’ve been reported. The massive safety issues fundamental to road design (in 45mph zones!) are even worse. WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BEG FOR DECADES FOR SMALL SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS.